THE Department of Tourism (DoT) said international visitor arrivals in the five months to May totaled nearly 3.5 million, up 9.76%, with arrivals in May and showing the highest year-on-year growth to date.
The five-month total suggests a monthly average of about 700,000 arrivals, though travel tends to peak in certain months. The average pace puts 2019 on track to exceed 2018 arrivals of 7.1 million and the 2019 target of 8.2 million.
In a statement on Monday, the DoT said arrivals in May totaled 621,719, up 15.62% from a year earlier. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the five months performance makes the department optimistic that it can exceed the target.
“The numbers are very encouraging. From 3,178,984 tourists recorded from January to May in 2018, we are already close to breaching the 3.5 million mark this year. This only shows that the preservation of our environment can go hand in hand with economic gains,” she said in a statement on Monday.
She was referring to a crackdown that is ongoing in various resort destinations to ensure establishments there are compliant with environmental law. The process started with the six-month closure of Boracay in 2018 after resorts there were found to be pumping sewage into the sea and building illegal structures along the waterfront. Rule changes have effectively reduced the island’s carrying capacity and threaten resorts elsewhere with closure until they comply with sewage treatment rules.
South Korea remained the leading source of visitors in the five months to May with 788,530 arrivals or 22.6% of the total market. China accounted for 733,769 arrivals or 21.03%.
Other top markets were the US with 472,469 arrivals; Japan 281,988; Taiwan 128,986; Australia 123,851; Canada 114,605; the UK 92,914; Singapore 64,951; and Malaysia 62,144. — Gillian M. Cortez